Shrink That Waist

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If you're looking to invest in your future health or coveting your favorite celeb's waistline ... add these tips into your normal diet and exercise routine and watch your waistline shrink:

1. Don't Get Trapped by Trans FatsWhat you don't eat is just as important to your waistline as what you're eating. A recent study has concluded that trans fat, which has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, may also increase dangerous belly fat. Trans fat is formed during a hydrogenation process in which vegetable oil is converted into a solid to increase shelf life of a food. Currently, manufacturers were required to list trans fat on the labels of their products.

2. Get More SleepStudies have shown that those who get less than four hours of sleep per night are more likely to be obese than those who get seven to nine hours. Sleep deprivation lowers leptin, a protein that suppresses appetite and tells the brain when the stomach is full. It also inhibits the production of insulin, which regulates blood sugar. So ... if you're constantly burning the midnight oil, you're interfering with your body's ability to burn off extra calories. Having a hard time falling asleep? Try these tips:
- Make a List: Do you find yourself staring at the ceiling with your to-do list running over and over again in your head? Try keeping a note pad on your dresser. Writing down the things that you need to get done should give you temporary relief (at least, until the morning).
- Sleep and Sex: Your bed should only be used for two things: sleep and sex. If you constantly find yourself eating, working, paying bills or doing other activities in your bed, your mind will not associate the bedroom with relaxation.
- Unhappy Hour: If you're a regular up the local pub for after-work beer specials, you can bet that the quality of your sleep is impacted. Alcohol interferes with your body's sleep rhythms and actually increases the likelihood of snoring. So, try to limit your cocktails to the weekend when you can get some extra shut-eye.

3. Managing StressThe "Fight or Flight" response has been around for millions of years, but it could also be adding unwanted inches to your waistline. When faced with stressful situations, our bodies release a hormonal cocktail of adrenaline, cortisol and insulin. Not only have high cortisol levels been associated with increased appetite and fat production, but the fat has been shown to typically deposit itself in the belly area. Constantly on edge? Here are some solutions:
- Just Say No: More than ever, employees are reporting that they are feeling overly stressed at work. This can usually be attributed to excessive demands and never-ending daily tasks and projects. If the overwhelming feeling is too much to handle, not only will your cortisol levels spike, but you'll be more likely to reach for that bag of chips. Consider speaking with your boss about prioritizing some projects. Remember, your health and waistline are at stake.
- Walk It Off: If the meeting went horribly or your co-worker is driving you crazy, don't sit and stew. Get up from your desk and take a five or 10 minute walk to clear your head and get some perspective. Being away from the computer screen will re-energize you and help you focus when you return.
- Monitor Your Mocha: Carefully watch your intake of caffeine and sugar. They may give you a temporary boost but actually alter mood, anxiety levels and blood pressure. Try replacing that second cup of coffee with an herbal tea or caffeine-free diet soda.

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